• U.S. Treasury Now Accepting Applications

    The United States Treasury is now accepting applications for the cash grant in lieu of tax credits that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    Applications will be accepted online at https://treas1603.nrel.gov/

    The statutory deadline for applications is October 11, 2011.

    For more information about the program and how to access the guidance documents, application, and terms and conditions, visit Windustry's announcement.

  • Study Finds No Impact of Wind Projects on Property Values

    A new study answers a long-nagging question of whether property values will decline due to nearby wind energy development. The answer is no, according to a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: "The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis."

    "Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,"

    —Ben Hoen, report author
    A overwhelming majority of Americans support wind farm projects over other types of new power sources that might be built in their community [U.S. Saint Index© survey]. However, concerns over property values can arise when residents learn of plans for nearby wind farm projects. While such concerns are not unreasonable, given property value effects that have been found near high voltage transmission lines, landfills, and other electric generation facilities; the impacts of wind energy facilities on nearby home sales had not previously been investigated thoroughly.

    "Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes," says report author Ben Hoen, a consultant to Berkeley Lab. "No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back - no evidence of widespread impacts." 

    The report concludes that there are no measurable impacts on residential property values due to the three characterizations studied:

    • Area Stigma: A concern that the general area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed, which may adversely affect home values in the local community regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines.
    • Scenic Vista Stigma: A concern that a home may be devalued because of the view of a wind energy facility, and the potential impact of that view on an otherwise scenic vista.
    • Nuisance Stigma: A concern that factors that may occur in close proximity to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have a unique adverse influence on home values.

    The team of researchers for the project collected data on almost 7,500 sales of single-family homes situated within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different U.S. states, and that occurred between 1996 and 2007; the closest home was 800 feet from a wind facility. The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic pricing models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models.  The hedonic pricing model is one of the most prominent and reliable methods for identifying the marginal impacts of different housing and community characteristics on residential property values.

    The final report can be downloaded:
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html
        
    A presentation summarizing key findings is available:
    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/emp-ppt.html

  • Seed Grants Available for Community Wind Projects in Minnesota

    The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is providing financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. Project funding can support technical assistance services (labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions (Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central).

    All applications are due no later than 4:30pm, November 2nd, 2009.

    The primary objectives of this funding project are to:

    1. Encourage the implementation of community‐based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in CERT regions; and
    2. Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

    Funding for these projects is provided through the MN Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security (OES).

    Visit the CERTs website to learn more about this opportunity and to download the application materials. You can also read more about previous projects that were successful in receiving these funds.

  • PTC, ITC or Cash Grant? Which Should a Developer Use?

    Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have released a combined report that may help wind project developers understand which federal incentives will be most economical: PTC, ITC, or Cash Grant? An Analysis of the Choice Facing Renewable Power Projects in the United States.

    The report takes a close look at key provisions in the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These key provisions could have a significant impact on how renewable energy projects are financed in the near future.

    Included in these provisions is an extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC). Another provision allows for projects that are eligible for the PTC to elect to receive a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) instead of the PTC. An even more intriguing provisions allows for a project that qualifies for the ITC (or the PTC but elects to receive the ITC) to receive the value of that credit as a cash grant from the Treasury.

    The authors analyzed a number of technologies in the report including wind, open- and closed-loop biomass, geothermal and landfill gas projects. The purpose of the analysis is to both quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the choice between the PTC and ITC (or cash grant) from the project developer perspective. Only two technologies showed a clear preference for one incentive over the other: open-loop biomass gets more value from the ITC across the board, while geothermal gets more value from the PTC.

    For wind energy, the authors looked at a range of installed costs from $1.500/kW to $2,500/kW and a range of capacity factors from 25% to 45%. They did not include the potential influence on project costs due to nameplate capacity in the presence of economies of scale. These quantitative results showed the PTC provided more value in approximately 2/3 of the cases analyzed.

    The authors also looked at qualitative factors that can also influence the decision of which incentive a developer wants to use. These factors include: the option to elect the cash grant; performance risk; tax credit appetite; liquidity; subsidized energy financing; power sale requirement; and the owner/operator requirement. Combining the quantitative and qualitative considerations, the authors found that most wind projects may benefit more from the ITC than they will from the PTC.

    As the report concludes, whether a particular project chooses the PTC or ITC or cash grant will depend on any number of factors that will be weighed by each project according to their priorities, and the fact that these choices for federal incentives now exist (temporarily) is a step in the right direction to broaden the participation base in renewable energy.

    Click here to download and read the full report (19 pages)
    .

  • Department of Energy Announces $93 million to Support Wind Energy

    Steven Chu discusses ARRA with President Barack Obama at DOE
    DOE Secretary Steven Chu with President Barack Obama

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - April 29, 2009 - Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that $93 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will be used to support the development of wind energy projects. “Wind energy will be one of the most important contributors to meeting President Obama's target of generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2012,” according to Secretary Chu. “The projects funded by this opportunity will advance wind technology so that it can reliably supply a substantial portion of our nation's electricity. They will also help in creating more new jobs and expanding a clean energy economy.”

    The funding will leverage the Department of Energy's national laboratories, universities, and the private sector to help improve reliability and overcome key technical challenges for the wind industry. These projects will create green jobs, promote economic recovery, and provide the investments needed to increase renewable energy generation.

    The funding includes these allocations:

    • $45 million for wind turbine drivetrain research and development and testing of the performance and reliability of current and next generation wind turbine drivetrain systems. This project will improve the country's competitiveness in wind energy technology, lower capital costs of wind systems, and maintain a high level of wind energy capacity growth.
    • $14 million for technology development in the private sector. The aim is to improve the quality and use of advanced materials for turbine blades, towers and other components. This will also fund development in process controls for lamination, blade finishing, trimming, grind, painting, materials handling and inspection.
    • $24 million for wind power research and development among a consortia between universities and industry to focus on critical wind energy issues including advancing material design, performance measurements, analytical models, and improving power systems operations, maintenance and repair, and component manufacturing.
    • $10 million for the DOE National Wind Technology Center in Colorado to support testing current and next generation wind turbine technology and upgrades to the electrical distribution system.

    Chu, who is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, made the announcement while touring the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. NREL will receive ARRA funding for a variety of other renewable energy research projects:

    • $68 million for a Research Support Facility to create the nation's most energy efficient office building at the same cost of low efficiency commercial construction today. It will achieve LEED Platinum and 50% energy use reduction over standard commercial office buildings.
    • $19.2 million for Renewable Energy and Site Infrastructure to use solar and potentially geothermal and fuel cells to replace power currently purchased from utilities and reduce our carbon use.
    • $13.5 million for upgrades to the Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility to create a continuous process research and development capability to develop commercial scale cellulose to ethanol technologies.

    Read the full press release from the Department of Energy.

  • Over 8,000 MW of Wind Energy Installed in 2008

    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced yesterday that in 2008 alone over 8,000 MW of wind energy was installed. This increased the nation's wind energy capacity by 50% and created an investment of $17 billion into the economy.

    The United States now has a total installed capacity of 25,170 MW of wind energy. Minnesota is ranked 4th nationally with 1,752 MW installed and Iowa has exceeded California and is now 2nd with 2,790 MW.

    AWEA's press release also urged policy makers to maintain the momenutm from 2008 and support smart policies that will help grow the wind industry. You can read the entire press release here.

  • South Dakota Wind Energy Association

    The South Dakota Wind Energy Association (SDWEA) elected a Board of Directors, named an Executive Director and set goals for 2009 at its first official meeting on January 13.

    The group will work to support the development of wind energy as a sustainable economic and environmentally-friendly resource for South Dakota and its citizens. Board President Jeffrey L. Nelson commented on South Dakota’s wind energy opportunity, “South Dakota has the fourth best wind in the country and many people want to further maximize this potential.” Nelson said, “We look forward to SDWEA advancing the opportunities for South Dakotans as further wind energy is developed throughout our state.”

    Click here to read the SDWEA press release.

  • Brookings County-Hampton Transmission Line Project Application Review

    The CapX2020 utilities filed a permit on December 29, 2008 for the Brookings County-Hampton 345kV transmission line project at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

    As required by law the application contains two route options for the approximately 240-mile transmission line and associated substations. The MN Public Utilities Commission will decide on a route and issue a permit after a public process that includes public input through meetings and hearings.

    The permit application is available to view online as well as at one of the following local libraries:

    • Brookings Public Library
    • Redwood Falls Public Library
    • New Ulm Public Library
    • Bird Island Public Library
    • Carver County Library
    • Henderson Public Library
    • Chippewa County Public Library
    • Scott County Library - Shakopee Branch
    • Granite Falls Public Library
    • Northfield Public Library
    • Montgomery Public Library
    • Heritage Library
    • Ivanhoe Public Library
    • Farmington Library
    • Marshall-Lyon County Library
    • St. Peter Public Library
    • Hutchinson Public Library

    For more information and to view this route application online please click here. For more information on all the CapX2020 activities, you can visit their website at www.capx2020.com. CapX2020 consists of 11 utilities that own transmission lines in Minnesota and the surrounding region.

  • Nominations for 2008 Wind Co-op of the Year

    Nominations for Wind Cooperative of the Year for 2008 are now being accepted. All electric cooperatives that are members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association are eligible, and there is no cost to nominate.

    The Wind Cooperative of the Year Award is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program.

    The 2008 winner will be recognized at the NRECA TechAdvantage Conference in New Orleans, La., Feb. 11-14, 2009. All nominations are due by close of business on Jan. 5th, 2009.

    Download the application here (MS Word 57KB)

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